Ross Seal

The remaining pack ice seal of the Antarctic is the Ross Seal, Ommatophoca rossii. This is much less often seen by the ordinary visitor as not only is it far less abundant than Crabeater or Leopard seals, but it is characteristically a seal of heavy consolidated pack ice, where few ships can penetrate. The Ross seal is another large seal, females measuring up to 3.3m and averaging 2.1m in nose to tail length. As in other true Antarctic seals, the female is a little larger than the male.

The Ross Seal is easily recognized by its short head, large eyes and its tendency to lift its head, inflate its throat, and adopt a characteristic "singing position". Often there are dark stripes running from the chin to the chest and along the sides of the neck. These feed mainly on squid, but take significant quantities of fish and other invertebrates.

Because of its remote habitat, its biology is little known; there seems to be some evidence of a clumped distribution, for it is much more frequently seen in some areas than in others. The comparative rarity and lack of scientific information on the Ross seal has led to its protection under the Antarctic Treaty.

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Links to information on the Crabeater, Elephant, Antarctic Fur, Leopard and Weddell seals.